your oft absent blogger is back from another sojourn, this time only a short hop away to Litton in the peak district. I had made grand plans to visit Brizzle before coming to my senses and planning a short and more affordable trip away in Derbyshire.
The criteria was simple - I would select a National Inventory pub, and find a B and B nearby, thus enabling me to have a proper late night session in said pub. First idea The Royal Cottage, as well as not actually being on the N.I, isn't exactly surrounded by accommodation. Meanwhile everywhere in Elton or Winster (for the N.I listed Duke of York in Elton) was either full or far too expensive. Luckily, a place to stay 15 minutes walk from the Three Stags Heads at Wardlow Mires was found. And so began an epic stint sitting in and soaking up the atmosphere of this fantastic unspoilt pub.
Arriving in Litton at tea time and having dumped my stuff in my room the first thing to do was go to the pub. Obviously. Very little point being a beer blogger if you don't even venture to try the local pub. The Red Lion is a popular old boozer situated overlooking the village green, and serves good quality food and more importantly, real ale.
On the bar was a choice of Abbeydale Absolution, Acorn Forester, a mainstream national beer and my choice of tipple - Wincle Sir Phillip. At £3.30 for a 4.3% beer its a bit steep but it was the prefect accompaniment to my meal, and just to make sure I had three pints of it. A very satisfactory start to the night.
I then walked out of the village, diced with death walking along the A6 before visiting the Three Stags Heads. The pub was packed out when I got there and I ended up sitting in the Green Room with a couple who, much to my horror, were flagrantly ignoring the no mobile rule! That's two such incursions witnessed in just one year! Clearly the pub will be a themed sports bar by next week at this rate....
The beer range is Abbeydale and more Abbeydale - Brimstone, Deception, Absolution and Lurcher in order of strength. The Absolution is a more than reasonable £3.00 a pint (5.3%) and so it seemed daft to have anything but that. As the crowds thinned a little I ended up sat with the landlord who was talking about their upcoming (Saturday and Sunday 14th and 15th September) pottery and food festival.
Against a backdrop of a fire in the range, a tumult of dogs and good natured banter this was a fantastic session. So often when I visit the Stags I'm on borrowed time, waiting with bated breath to be informed by whoever was kind enough to drive me there that we needed to leave. Now I was sat in walking distance of a bed and constrained only by how late I thought I could realistically get to sleep and still make breakfast at 8.30. This was bliss.
Saturday saw me off down Cressbrook Dale below a canvas of cloud strewn skies and fleeting bursts of sunshine that changed the appearance of mt surroundings constantly. I came back into Litton via Tansley Dale and walked slowly back towards the Three Stags, passing the landlord on the way walking his dogs. Robbie the barman was on hand to dispense beer and conversation and so began another, perhaps even more enjoyable session on the Absolution.
Being there for 6 hours reveals the Stags' contradiction. The pub is a relaxing refuge from the madness of the modern world, yet it's simultaneously an ever changing scene, constantly filled and emptied by a steady flow of customers including walkers, cyclists, a family training for a Forth Bridge abseil, pottery fanatics, sightseers and locals. All washed in and out of the tiny bar, lit by the sun streaming in through the front door, and as ever almost overwhelmed by dogs of all shapes and sizes. To cap it all the Absolution was on great form and had it not been that I was off to Fluff's 40th birthday party I might have been walking back to Litton for the last bus - or contemplating another night away.
As it was, a possibly drink inspired cheeky request to a couple I hoped were Sheffield bound resulted in them giving me a lift back - they even dropped me at the Beauchief Hotel, the venue for the party! Well, after all, if you don't ask, you don't get.
In respect of which, what I got, as well as a helping hand, was a day of exercise and sloth, and excellent beer and company in a fabulous, unspoilt National Inventory pub, which was a fantastic end to my Summer holidays. AKA, exactly what I was after.